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Can we find more fulfillment in Christian work than in any other kind of work?

QUESTION:

I'll be graduating soon with a Computer Engineering degree. But believe it or not, my heart is not in it. I don't see myself working for the corporate world. My life's passion is to serve God. That's what I enjoy the most. But I don't know where or what God has in store for me. The only thing I can do is trust in and wait on Him, which can be difficult at times. There are times when I feel discouraged about not knowing what the future holds (even know I know who holds the future). There are those days where I feel like I'm a failure. Sometimes I feel like I've waisted 5 years of my life studying something that I'll not be using................but in fact, I've learned a lot about life and grown in my walk with God in those years. I keep asking, "God, what do you have in store for me?" I just wanted you to give me some advices and inputs from your experience on what I should be doing about these feelings I have. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's going thru this. I'm asking you, as a brother in Christ, to give me some insights and I know God will speak to me through you (even though we've never met). Hope you don't mind.

ANSWER:

The following may sound a little harsh, so I want to first say that there are many Ministries and Churches that are being used by God. My intent is to demonstrate that you're only going to find personal fulfillment through your personal relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thinking that you will find fulfillment working in the, "Ministry" can be one of the most deceptive ideas you can ever experience. For me to say this may be a shock, but bear with me and you'll understand more of what I mean by this. I have been in Christ for many years, presently am a Pastor of a church, and before that had associations with at least 4 churches simultaneously at any given time. I have many other Pastors and Missionaries all over the world on my email distribution, and we can all testify of what we have seen in the lives of people who work in ministries. Working in the ministry can sometimes be a very depressing experience. The ministry is a major battleground experience as you truly engage in warfare for the spiritual salvation and growth of people. Most people reject Christ, and of those who don't, many paralyze themselves with law such that they can be more damaging to the people around them, than before they came to Christ. You can spend years discipling a person, only to see them fall prey to a cult. You can be the Pastor of a 1000 member congregation and suffer knowing that not only are your sermons not having long term impact on people's lives, but your church only survives because of the band and the new people who rotate through your church, because of your advertising. Music Ministers, Pastors, and most everyone in Ministry eventually gets that, "call" to go someplace else, because they just feel unfulfilled where they are. I can tell you through plenty of experience, that in many ways the, "Ministry" is no different than the corporate world. Ministries operate just as any other business operates, and to use the excuse that it is for, "God" can be a pitiful denial of reality that most everyone tries to hide behind. The statistics for Pastor burnout also bear witness that what I say is true.

There truly are millions of needs in this world. The opportunities to reach out to those who are hurting are, and always will be endless. What I am about to tell you is what was told to me years ago by my friend Ian Thomas. The need is never the call. If the need was the call, you would have to figure out which of the millions of needs was your calling. No one is ever, ever, ever called to the Ministry. The call is to Christ. Matthew wrote in Mat 11:28-30, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." If there is a particular need that our Lord would like you to fulfill, he will send you, and there will be no confusion in your heart and spirit with regards to this. If you don't go, He'll send someone else. If you do go, you know who sent you, and you know who put you, and the results are completely beyond your concern. All you do is what He tells you to do individually.

We were so created by God such that His indwelling presence within us is completely indispensable to our true humanity. The only fulfillment we will ever experience is through our personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. As soon as you suggest that your fulfillment will be found as a minister, through relationships with others, you have completely escaped the boundaries established by God. Only God will provide us with perfect love, acceptance, meaning and purpose. To seek it in any other way, to include work in the, "Ministry" is to potentially be guilty of idolatry.

Often people enter the ministry with a desire to devote their lives to communicating the Gospel to the lost. They go to a seminary and generally start out as a youth pastor. After a time of that, or a similar internship they may have an opportunity to move to another church and be hired as a pastor there. The process is not much different than any other job. Eventually, they discover that they are isolated from the world. They find themselves so involved with the administration and the affairs of the church that they don't get much exposure to lost people at all. They may have a number of them in their congregation, but non Christians in a church are some of the most difficult people to reach with the Gospel. Why this is true is another story. Finding time to do real discipleship is extremely difficult because they are constantly trying to address a group instead of working with people 1 on 1. Even in my position on Sunday mornings, I find it difficult to really engage a person who comes to visit.

In general, you don't find lost people in a church. If you're daily work is separate from the world, it is going to be very difficult for you to actually engage with those who both need Jesus, and are going to be receptive. You will find that entering the world with your Computer Engineering Degree will provide you with countless more significant opportunities to talk with lost people about the Lord than you would necessarily experience if you went into full time Christian work. Now this is certainly not always the case, and there are many examples where the opposite is true. I am only saying this generally. I know many Pastors who are so isolated from the world from 15 years or more of ministry that their evangelistic skills have atrophied a bit.

I have often met people who are using their skills working in a ministry or, "Christian Company" of some kind. Many seek these positions in order to hide from the lost, and hopefully experience a more pleasant work environment. They felt they were going to be fulfilled by working in support of a ministry, but it normally does not become a reality. Religious people can be amongst the meanest people you ever have exposure to, and it is not unusual for people such as this to have even less integrity than a business owner who doesn't know Jesus at all.

The bottom line is that searching for personal fulfillment in Christian work is a completely misplaced dependency. The deepest longings of your soul and spirit are only fulfilled through your receiving, resting in, and trusting in the love of God for you. It is only through your personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ that you will ever experience peace, rest, and fulfillment. When this is established and experienced in your life, it won't matter what kind of work you do for a living. Even Jesus spent the majority of His life as a carpenter or stone cutter. It will be in the midst of living your life that He will live His with you and through you. Don't hesitate to continue with Computer Engineering as He will go with you, and effect lives of the people around you in ways that might never happen otherwise. If you truly want to communicate the love of God that you have received, consider your new career as a tool to allow you the opportunities to engage with others and share with them the love of God you have received. Remember though, that you will never experience true fulfillment through your work. That is not the purpose of it as so many people seem to be convinced of.

Aaron Budjen




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